News & Politics

Twitter Sues Islamist Turkey Over Fine for Not Removing PKK-Friendly Tweets

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a rally in the courtyard of historical Haci Bayram Mosque in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, May 26, 2015." (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Late last year, Turkey announced that it was fining Twitter $50,000. The reason: Twitter failed to remove content that the Turkish government believed justified terrorism by the PKK, a Marxist-Leninist Kurdish terrorist organization.

In a statement, the government’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said Twitter failed to remove content “praising terrorism, targeting the security forces and inciting hatred and violence.” Before fining the social media website, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had already compared Twitter to the “knife in the hand of a murderer,” adding that “I don’t like to tweet, schmeet.”

Yes, he actually said schmeet.

Anyhow, Twitter isn’t happy with the fine and is now suing the Turkish government over it. As Germany’s Deutsche Welle reports:

Twitter representatives confirmed to multiple news organizations that the company was seeking to challenge a fine imposed by Ankara for not removing content the government considered “terrorist propaganda.” A source close to the case told Reuters news agency Twitter was arguing the fine was illegal. A lawyer for the company also confirmed to Al Jazeera that the case had been filed, but declined to provide further details.

In the past, Erdoğan’s increasingly autocratic government had already banned access to Twitter for similar reasons. It’s the first time, however, that Ankara has gone so far as to fine the San Francisco-based company. That Erdoğan has taken this step is yet another sign that Turkey is quickly becoming an autocracy, rather than a democracy. Freedom of speech is virtually non-existent in the majority-Muslim country, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

You’ve got to give credit to Twitter for taking on Erdoğan and fighting back. Sadly, there aren’t many websites and newspapers with the courage to do so.